the death and new life of grunge: 15 questions with DEM BONES

We asked San Fernando Valley-based grunge outfit DEM BONES our staple fifteen questions on music, the creative process, and the longevity of D.I.Y.

Picture by @eloralois.

1. Give us a brief, oral history of Dem Bones.

Our names are Gavin Valladares, Anthony Laurie, Kyle Brizendine, and Ripley Conklin.

We are four dudes between the ages of 16-18 from California's San Fernando Valley. Three of us used to be in a band called Running On Empty which recently split up. We then added Kyle on bass and became Dem Bones. We have lots of experience gigging around at house parties and larger venues such as the Whisky A Go-Go and the Canyon Club.


2. How would you describe your sound?

We would describe our sound as alternative grunge with heavy influence taken from

bands such as Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Foo

Fighters, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.


3. Locality is a big part of what influences sound, style. Do you think the music scene

where you met / where you were raised contributed towards the genesis of the band?

Why or why not?

No, I would not say that our local scene influenced our sound. We love our local scene

and have lots of friends that we play with, but our sound was more cultivated through our

own personal music tastes.


4. Would you rather play a house show or an on-stage gig?

We would definitely rather play a house party! Where we live, the venues tend to have

steep rates for pay to play shows, and while they are very fun, we would much rather

have an intimate show with all of our friends right there in the pits with us.


5. How has D.I.Y. influenced you as a group? With the rise of online landscapes—

streaming, social media, et cetera— D.I.Y. has been suggested to be slowly becoming

obsolete. Would you agree or disagree?

There is an awesome D.I.Y punk/metal scene a few minutes north of us that is super cool

to go check out. We don’t think D.I.Y will ever become obsolete; it will always possess a

quality that money can’t buy.


6. What’s your creative process like?

Usually, someone comes up with a riff and brings in to the next practice. Then, we all

create our own parts to go along with it. After that, we polish it up and make sure it’s

ready to play live.


7. What three albums do you think every person should listen to?

Overall, we think that three albums people have to listen to are Toxicity by System of a

Down, Paranoid by Black Sabbath, and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by

Smashing Pumpkins.


Picture by @elonalois.

8. Do you have any influences outside the realm of music- be it art, film, what have you?

We really appreciate Banksy’s art outside of the realm of music. A lot of current street

artists have super cool messages about societal problems.


9. How would you describe your songwriting style? Vulnerable? Cerebral around the

edges?

I would describe it as whatever we feel at different times; our music is heavily

influenced by what is going on in our lives at the time we write the song.


10. What motivates you to create music / what’s the ethos of Dem Bones?

We want to create music that is fun to play live while still being listenable and

catchy enough to stick in someone’s head. Our ethos is fun while still being technically

competent.


11. What themes, in your eyes, are prevalent in your songwriting? Is this influenced by

anything in particular, such as another artist or a personal experience?

We write a lot about internal thoughts and feelings that often we don’t understand.

Also, we occasionally write about societal issues.


12. Dem Bones feels like a band with a really solid, enormous stage presence. What we’ve

learned in the past few years- from lip-syncing to SZA’s onstage warbling- is that

performing is becoming a lost art form. What are your favorite parts about playing a

show? Do you think it’s a sacred thing, being in that shared space?

Performances are a sacred thing. That is where all of the hard work finally pays

off. We are extremely high energy at our performances and pretty well known for our

wall-of-death near the end of our set.


13. What’s new on the horizon for Dem Bones? Recording? Tours?

We are hoping to release two singles followed shortly by an album as well as play

a plethora of summer shows. Hopefully, we can play San Diego and Berkeley soon!


14. Where can people find you?

People can find us on Instagram! That’s where we want everyone to go and

connect with us: @dembonesband.


15. And, lastly, we’ll leave you with one question we ask at the end of every interview: are

you pro or anti pineapple-on-pizza? This is a safe space. Justify your reasoning.

Definitely anti; miss me with that bullshit chief. :)

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